The Governor's School Efficiency Task Force issued its final recommendations today on how Kansas can get more funding into classrooms and less in administration and overhead costs. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback formed the task force to analyze education funding, examine how to spend it more efficiently, and research best practices on using savings in the classroom.
"It is our hope that this report will assist the Governor and the Kansas Legislature in their policymaking decisions, and that it will result in more efficient and effective Kansas public schools," Task Force Chairman Ken Willard said.
The task force listened to presentations on education spending from various stakeholders including Kansas State Department of Education officials, school board representatives, service center administrators, and superintendents. Individually, members of the task force conversed with teachers, district officials, and board members from many different parts of the state to further their comprehension of the issues at stake.
Chairman Willard said the 12 recommendations made by the task force range from budgeting processes to spending requirements to administration realignment and training.
Establish a statutorily-required 2-year school funding cycle.
Place a priority emphasis on the timely transfer of state payments to school districts in June and January.
Conduct a study to reevaluate the state's open-ended obligation to equalization of school construction bond issues to provide the state with better visibility from a budgeting perspective
Conduct a study on implementing a state data management and accounting system that is integrated with K-12 school systems and post-secondary institutions for streamlined educational reporting of data flow/administrative processes.
Restructure the operating parameters associated with the Capital Outlay Fund
Revise/narrow the Professional Negotiations Act to prevent it from hindering operational flexibility/resource assignment.
Legislatively eliminate, reduce, and consolidate the statutory cash reserve accounts and separate fund accounts that currently exist, thereby ending the "use-it-or-lose-it" policy and allowing the funding contained in each fund category to be more broadly spent across the full variety of educational requirements. Accounts that remain, including the General Fund, should be allowed a modest amount of carryover from year to year.
Authorize a study of school district administration personnel structures and positions. Develop a state plan for district-level administrative reorganization and alignment:
Require that a university level finance/accounting/budget management course be included in the district leadership licensing requirements, if not already included.
Form a task force of education, finance, and legislative members to establish a commonly-accepted definition of "instruction" spending and review the 65% public policy goal figure.
Place a limitation on duration of due process proceedings for special education hearings.
Conduct an efficiency study/audit of the Kansas State Department of Education.
"I want to thank the members of the task force for their work on this important issue. Their insight on how we can get more money into our Kansas classrooms will benefit generations of students to come. I look forward to working with legislators, parents, teachers and administrators in putting these recommendations into practice," Governor Brownback said.
Also included in the Task Force's report are a number of best practices for reductions in administrative overhead and efficient school spending as well as a representative sampling of input received from Kansans through its online portal.